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AFP launches Operation Guardian to protect victims of Optus hack

The Australian Federal Police is aiming to protect current and former Optus customers from identity crime and financial fraud via “Operation Guardian”.

user iconReporter
Mon, 03 Oct 2022
AFP launches Operation Guardian to protect victims of Optus hack
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AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough announced that Operation Guardian will see the federal police prioritise protecting the customers impacted after the malicious cyber actors released 10,000 records which include passport, Medicare and driver’s licence information that were posted on a data breach website.

According to Gough, Operation Guardian will "supercharge" the protection of those 10,000 people and provide "multi-jurisdictional and multilayered protection from identity crime and financial fraud."

The AFP is set to work with the financial sector to detect activity associated with the breach, Gough explained, and Online forums will be monitored.

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Meanwhile international partners including the FBI and AFP cyber liaison officers across the world continue to work on Operation Hurricane, the operation to "find out who obtained the data and attempted to sell it online".

Gough added the alleged offender had used "obfuscation techniques" to hide their identity online, noting that it will be a "complex investigation that will take some time".

"This will be a long and (sic) investigation and it involves large data sources, multiple inquiries.

"There are complex datasets.

"It will involve cooperation with law enforcement from across the globe, potentially, given that we are talking about a type of crime that is borderless."

Gough declined to comment on reports that the breach allegedly occurred when Optus left an application programming interface (API) open to its customer database without requiring authorisation.

Police were investigating the source of the leak, and Gough did not go into details at this time.

While the hackers apologised and dropped their ransom demands for Optus to pay $1 million, the 10,000 records had already been copied and reposted by other users on the data breach website.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong wrote to Optus noting that "there was no justification for victims or taxpayers to foot the bill".

Last Friday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pushed for customers caught up in the breach who had their passport numbers exposed would have the cost of a replacement passport covered by Optus.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that Optus has agreed to pay for the replacement of passports exposed in the leak of 9.8 million customer records, after calling for the telco to pay for the replacements in parliament last week.

"Optus had agreed to the government’s demand.

"[Optus] will cover the costs of replacing affected customers' passports.

"I think that’s entirely appropriate," Albanese said.

[Related: Almost 37k Medicare numbers compromised in Optus hack]

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